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Argentina shocked by brochure advising on safer consumption of drugs

Tuesday, April 26th 2022 - 09:49 UTC
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“If you are going to consume, keep these tips in mind,” says the brochure. “If you are going to consume, keep these tips in mind,” says the brochure.

Argentine opposition Deputy Waldo Wolff of the Macrist Juntos por el Cambio (JxC - Together for Change) Monday announced he would be filing a lawsuit against the City Council of Morón, a district in the western outskirt of Buenos Aires, after a series of leaflets advising on the cautious use of drugs sparked nationwide controversy.

Morón, run by Mayor Lucas Ghi of the national and provincial ruling Frente de Todos (FdT) released during a rock concert Saturday evening flyers containing tips on how to consume drugs such as marijuana and cocaine in a safer way.

Wolff announced he would take legal action against the initiative, while Morón Health Secretary Martín Latorraca explained the rationale behind the decision: It is part of a municipal program from Morón's Directorate of Youth Policies “to reduce risks and damages associated to the consumption of psychoactive substances.”

“If you are going to consume, keep these tips in mind,” says the brochure. It adds: “Cocaine/pills: go slowly and slowly. Take a little to see how your body reacts. If you are stopped, you have the right to a lawyer.” The flyer was handed out during a festival by the La Minga rock band. It quickly went viral.

Latorraca added that the way to address the problem in question “is not by hiding it but by putting it on the table”.

“There is no need to hide a problem, it is something that worries us a lot,” he argued. Faced with criticism because the brochure does not include warnings to avoid reaching consumption, he clarified, “We

have a lot of work aimed at prevention but we do not have to stop working from this point of view.” The official insisted the leaflet was aimed at “a particular population.”

All policies carried out by the City Council start by trying to avoid the beginning of consumption, and there is still a sizeable number of youths who still do drugs. “We have to work to prevent damage on them,” Latorraca stressed.

These statements were far from convincing JxC leaders. In addition to Wolf, Diego Santilli, Ricardo López Murphy, and Mario Negri blamed Ghi for “aggravating the problems of our youth.”

Former Buenos Aires Governor and Morón resident María Eugenia Vidal said in a TV interview that “this is vulgar.”

“This is the worst way to implement a harm reduction policy. It is an ideological policy. I think this has to do with an ideology, with a policy,” she added.

Physician Mariana Lestelle of nationwide TV fame explained through her Twitter account that what happened in Morón fell under a harm reduction policy. “It's done around the world,” the specialist said.

“The simplest example of a harm reduction policy: 'if you drink alcohol, don't drive',” she added. She also admitted only “the place where the leaflets were given out” was up for debate. “And no harm reduction policy is ever done without a constant policy of primary prevention,” she went on.

The medical specialist also underlined the importance of the brochure's wording: “Because instead of harm reduction, they unintentionally end up making an apology.”

She then added a link to the United Nations' harm reduction program for consumers (@UNAIDS).

Lestelle's father -Alberto Lestelle, also a medical doctor- used to be national Secretary of Fight against Drug Trafficking between 1989 and 1996 under then-President Carlos Menem.

Former Morón Mayor Ramiro Tagliaferro -Vidal's ex-husband- said that “I want a State that teaches our children that cocaine destroys lives and families, not how to consume it.”

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